The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 September 2004

And in other free-market news

Bookseller Edward Hyde suspects Regnery is playing games with a top-selling title:

Regnery is intentionally withholding the books and started the rumor about bookstores "suppressing" it in order to force stores to carry more copies of a wider selection of Conservative books in the future, just so we don't have to listen to the wackadoos.

Most of my day today was spent cleaning up customer orders. Regnery says they have 550,000 copies in print; either that's still not enough, or they're lying. We order 500 copies, they send us 30 and cancel the rest; we order the remaining 470 from the first order, they send us 6 and cancel the rest. We don't get enough in to cover all of the copies customers have reserved; we have never been able to stock any on the shelves.

"In print," I suspect, is a term which has different meanings to different people. To you or me or Mr Hyde, it means that there are that many copies of the book out there somewhere. Not having had a book published, I have to wonder if maybe the publisher considers "in print" to include any press runs actually ordered, whether they're complete or not. (I'd appreciate any information on this from anyone who knows.)

Meanwhile, the immediate result, at least for Hyde, is frustration:

I'm almost hoping Bush wins, so no one will care about the Swift Boat Vets any longer and the damned book becomes a $5.98 remainder by Christmas.

Migod, he is serious.

Posted at 6:17 PM to Dyssynergy

That kind of logic is practiced in stores here along the border. Supermarkets are the worst.

If a store has a really hot selling item making it hard to keep on the shelves, they just stop ordering it.

It is just so frustrating trying to explain to them that they should increase their order, not cancel it.


Posted by: Rich at 6:57 PM on 7 September 2004

My copy from Amazon was delayed, but not as much as Amazon first warned. It arrived today. (That U.S. Postal Service motto is for real!)

Posted by: McGehee at 7:05 PM on 7 September 2004

Huh. That's interesting--the last time I was at my local Borders, the employees were swamped with people asking when they're going to put the book on the shelves and they were saying in a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off kind of way, "No, no, no, you should order ahead of time. We don't think we'll be able to get any copies to put on the shelf." And then there are a whole stack of The 9-11 Commission Report lying out, marked down for sale and ignored and I thought--"Well, isn't it obvious where people's sympathies lie?"

Posted by: sya at 7:38 PM on 7 September 2004

Being such a highly competitive business that relies on bestsellers for profits, it doesn't make a lot of sense for publishers or retail outlets to discourage sales in any manner. And since the appeal of bestsellers is time dependent, it would be ludicrous for inventory to be held back because the longer a book doesn't sell, the greater the discount.

Assuming that publishers and retailers are in business to maximize profit, it would be reasonable to assume that some stores are not putting books on shelves because they're simply not available.

Recognize, of course, that my opinion is offered without insider knowledge. Maybe something else is going on (i.e. overriding political activism on the part of book retailers).

Posted by: Interested-Participant at 9:07 PM on 7 September 2004

My wife, who works for a publishing company, says that 550,000 in print means that there are that many actual, extant copies.

Of course, they could just be lying.

Posted by: Dan at 9:58 PM on 7 September 2004

One more thought - if one bookstore is ordering 500 copies, it doesn't take many bookstores to add up to 550,000.

Angi says it's ridiculous to think a publisher would hold a book back. They want to make money - any other consideration is secondary.

Posted by: Dan & Angi at 10:04 PM on 7 September 2004

Right. You don't make more money by selling less product. If Regnery were indeed doing what they're claiming, there would have to be a non-economic reason for it.

Trouble is, the most plausible non-economic reason that can be read into all this is the book retailers' desire not to catch flak for the book's not being in stock. So why not blame the publisher?

Posted by: McGehee at 9:57 AM on 8 September 2004